Ford Lake Road bridge replacement project prompts temporary closure, Pigeon River State Forest Campground site #19 closure

Contact: Josh Leisen (Huron Pines), 989-370-0275 or Kelly Kinser (DNR Parks and Recreation Division), 989-732-5485
Agency: Natural Resources

April 1, 2021

original wood bridgeDue to failing infrastructure and a recent washout, the bridge over the Pigeon River at the Ford Lake Road crossing in Otsego County will be completely replaced. The new bridge will resemble the original timber bridge, allowing the river to return to its natural, free-flowing state, improve fish passage and reduce opportunities for flooding.


The Otsego County Road Commission, in partnership with Huron Pines and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is coordinating the project.

The bridge and associated day-use area, commonly referred to as "the Tubes" by locals because of the three large culverts currently anchoring the road crossing, will close for approximately eight weeks to help ensure visitor safety. Construction is slated to begin mid-April and be completed by the end of June. 

Initially, the culverts and existing bridge were scheduled to be replaced by a new wooden bridge later this year; however, strong rains this past fall washed out the entire area, prompting county officials to move up the construction timeline. 

The bridge is situated in the Pigeon River Country State Forest and is located on Ford Lake Road approximately a quarter-mile east of Twin Lakes Road in Vanderbilt.

The Pigeon River State Forest Campground is adjacent to the bridge. The majority of sites will not be affected and will remain open during construction; however, due to the washout and project scope, the single campsite at the bridge (site # 19) will be eliminated.

"The DNR Parks and Recreation Division is thankful for our partners and excited to see the new bridge come to fruition," said Kelly Kinser, Otsego Lake State Park supervisor. "The new bridge is more advantageous because it will help restore the natural flow of the river and natural communities surrounding the area."

"The Pigeon River crossing is the largest and most crucial to help restore river connectivity and sediment reduction," said Lisha Ramsdell, associate director of Huron Pines. "The DNR has always been a great partner for building and implementing these kinds of large-scale restoration efforts. For the river's sake and for those who enjoy the Pigeon River Country, this is an important project."

For the latest updates on this and other DNR trail and facility closures, visit Michigan.gov/DNRClosures.

For project information, contact Josh Leisen, Huron Pines project leader, at 989-370-0275 or Josh@HuronPines.org. For more information on the state forest campground, contact Kelly Kinser at 989-732-5485 or KinserK@Michigan.gov.


/Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows. 

1940 Tubes: This image shows the timber bridge that was in place at the Ford Lake Road crossing over the Pigeon River around 1940 (Photo courtesy: Lyle Horsell family).

Houghton Creek at Flynn Road: This image, taken at the Flynn Road crossing over Houghton Creek in Ogemaw County, will resemble the timber bridge that will be built at the Ford Road crossing over the Pigeon River. (Photo courtesy: Huron Pines)/